Feb. 6, 2008 – Leica announced a "perpetual upgrade program" at the Photo Marketing Association trade show that allows M8 camera owners to add the latest technology to their cameras. This update includes a new LCD screen on the back of the camera and replacing the current shutter with a quieter one. However, it won't be free: Leica will charge existing users $1,400 for the upgrade.
This hardware upgrade is part of what Leica describes as its "perpetual upgrade program", and will cost €1200 (about $1,400 USD). For that price, the M8 will be fitted with a new quieter shutter that "is closer to a well-tuned classic analog Leica M," according to the press release. The quieter shutter also produces less kinetic energy, which in turn reduces blur in images that use slower shutter speeds.
The other hardware included in this version’s upgrade is a new scratch-resistant sapphire glass screen cover. The new surface is extremely hard; only diamond glass is harder. "Due to its excellent scratch and abrasion resistance, sapphire glass is completely immune to contact with metal, stone, or sand," stated Leica’s press release.
In addition to the quiet shutter and hard LCD cover, the Leica M8 hardware upgrade will come with a new two-year warranty. The manufacturer’s website calls the M8 "a future proof investment."
In addition, Leica announced a firmware update, available to all M8 owners, that corrects color casts associated with the automatic white balance setting. This free update is available on the company website and comes in response to complaints issued from Leica M8 customers last year.
'While other digital cameras quickly become outdated and are replaced by newer models, our new concept extends the value retention that stands for the Leica brand," said Steven K. Lee, CEO of Leica Camera AG. He promises that the upgrade program will be ongoing, and new developments are in the works, possibly including upgrades to the imaging sensor.
M8 owners interested in the program should sign up on the manufacturer’s website. Leica will begin issuing upgrade certificates and arranging shipment logistics in March. The actual upgrades won’t begin until August.
Digital cameras that are two or three years old are now considered out of date, so many consumers would rather trash an old camera than refurbish it. Leica’s new perpetual upgrade program is designed to put fresh technology in the original 10.5-megapixel M8 camera body; this is a nice spin on recycling.
The Leica M8 underwent a firmware update in March 2007 to correct several programming bugs and improve the color performance when shooting RAW images.